Disturbing photograph of slain rhino wins best wildlife photo of the year

The image was taken after poachers broke into a South African game reserve and shot the animal

A deeply disturbing photograph of a rhinoceros that was slain for its horns has won a prestigious prize in the world of wildlife photography.

South African photographer Brent Stirton captured the image in the Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Game Reserve in the north-east of the country. The picture was awarded Wildlife Photograph of the Year 2017.

It depicts a sad state of the world in which animals are mercilessly killed in the pursuit for money. The rhino lies slumped in the mud with a grisly gun shot wound in its side. Poachers broke into the reserve at night and shot the large creature.

The image, named Memorial to a Species, is part of a series captured by Stirton. He visited more than 30 sites at which animals had been killed.

He told BBC News: ‘My first child is going to be born in February; I’m 48. And I think I left it such a long time because I kind of lost faith in a lot of the work we see as photojournalists. You lose faith in humanity to some extent.

‘For me to win this, for the jury to acknowledge this kind of picture – it’s illustrative that we are living in a different time now, that this is a real issue.

‘The sixth age of extinction is a reality and rhinos are just one of many species that we are losing at a hugely accelerated rate and I am grateful that the jury would choose this image because it gives this issue another platform,’ he added.

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